View Full Version : How did your child start programing?

03-13-2014, 10:46 AM
It has come to my attention that some you have youngsters that are programming. One is programming a game. Another looks like he is programming an app that tracks temperature. How did your kids get into programming? Could those of you who have kids that are programming let me know how they got interested? How they got started? I'm a bit of a techno-peasant, but I would like my 11 year old to, at least, sample what it is like. Any suggestions?

03-13-2014, 11:04 AM
My son's interest started as a result of a 4-H project. In our state we have a computers project the kids may complete; he was probably around 10 year old. It started simple with "how does a computer work" and basic programs like Word, spreadsheets, etc.

For some reason this sparked a huge interest in him. He checked out books from the library (things like JavaScript: The Definitive Guide: David Flanagan: 9780596000486: Amazon.com: Books (http://www.amazon.com/JavaScript-Definitive-Guide-David-Flanagan/dp/0596000480/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1394719228&sr=8-2&keywords=javascript+the+definitive+guide) and other books and languages). He would input a program discussed in the book, see if it works, then make adjustments to it.

Now that he's been doing this for a while, he mostly uses online forms for ideas and help along with reading Linux magazine. He's totally self-taught. The funny thing is, he considers this a hobby, not a career path. I keep trying to tell him what better career to have than something you do for fun!

I'm sure others have used courses, mostly online, to have their kids learn programming. They'll pipe in!

03-13-2014, 11:56 AM
I started with Scratch (http://scratch.mit.edu/), which is free. We went through the quick-start guide (http://cdn.scratch.mit.edu/scratchr2/static/__1394659899__//pdfs/help/Getting-Started-Guide-Scratch2.pdf) with the teen working mostly independently and me working with the 7 yo. Later, the teen used the Scratch Programming for Teens book (I think there's an updated version), and the younger (when he was 9) used Super Scratch Programming Adventure (a cartoon guide for kids). The teen then did some programming on a robot through First Lego League First Tech Challenge, and the 10 yo is now doing Mod Design through Youth Digital (http://www.youthdigital.com/mod-design-1.html), which we purchased on sale through the homeschool buyers coop (http://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/index.php?&c=1) - not sure they'll have a deal like that again.

03-13-2014, 12:22 PM
My son started programming late last year with an online class that was mentioned on this board. It immediately struck a chord with him, and has become something he's totally passionate about. He frequently "catches up" to the instructor and has to wait for more classes to become available. :)

He isn't interested in scratch (doesn't care for cartoon characters and is more interested in the coding behind the drag and drop), but is starting to create his own Mario Kart tracks by hacking into the wii. It's a complex project--I'm just staying out of his way and letting him have at it.

Programming has had a number of unexpected benefits for him and I think it's something he will stay interested in for a long time.

Norm Deplume
03-13-2014, 12:32 PM
My son is just at the very beginning stages of coding, using Khan Academy. We're only to the "making shapes" section, so I don't know how far one can get through just Khan.

Editing to add link: https://www.khanacademy.org/cs

03-13-2014, 01:10 PM
DH started DD with Logo/Turtle programming (Turtle Academy - learn logo programming in your browser free programming materials for kids (http://turtleacademy.com/)) when she was 6y, she did the online HTML course (HTML 101 for Kids (http://www.forthuntparent.com/academy/HTMLFrontPage.cfm?from=Gifted&CFID=198971&CFTOKEN=b3c7562082a102a1-59E32F4C-D01E-9963-D028CBEB07A82679&jsessionid=1FD70786914B9B84B9FE485B94A21FB3.cfusio n)) this past winter when she was 7/8y, and her dad has had her playing around with Alice (Alice.org (http://www.alice.org/index.php)) the last few months because he's taking a programming class at the local college. She will be starting a WeDo (LEGO Education | Products > Elementary > LEGO Education WeDo (http://www.legoeducation.us/eng/categories/products/elementary/lego-education-wedo)) program this weekend through our local 4H and her dad will be assisting the instructor because he's planning to volunteer as an instructor. :)

Oooops. Sorry I forgot to add the "how they got interested" part. DH is a geek whose son is a geek. The geek gene is a strong one in their family. When DH's son (31yo from 1st marriage) came to visit, DH was trying to explain what her half-brother did for a living. So DH pulled up Turtle to give her a simple visual demonstration of what programming was like; he used Turtle w/his son when he was a kid. I got her started with the HTML because I knew she wanted to design a website for kids, and the class being offered looked doable. And it was free. :) Alice came up because DH was taking his programming class, and she would just lurk behind him while he was doing his homework. Then she started reading his textbook. As for WeDo, I learned about it at the 4H fair this fall and asked her if she was interested. Because it links LEGOs (one of her favorite things) with programming (one of her growing favorites), I thought she might enjoy it. We'll have to see how WeDo goes. If she loves it and does well with it, they have a LEGO Mindstorm (LEGO Education | Products > Middle School > LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 (http://www.legoeducation.us/eng/categories/products/middle-school/lego-mindstorms-education-ev3#loc=middle_W1_june2013)) program for the older kids.

03-13-2014, 01:18 PM
We started with scratch.
Right now my kids are working through this program Code.org (http://learn.code.org/) which is free. This isn't my thing - my husband works on it with the kids on it and all my kids really like it so far. My husband says it is a solid start on the basics. It teaches concepts behind coding and there is a graphical interface similar to scratch or mindstorms but is a bit more methodical in approach.
From here we are going to move into python stuff I think, using these books http://www.amazon.ca/Coding-Club-Level-Python-Steps/dp/1107623251

My kids have also done a fair amount of very simple coding using the Lego Mindstorms program.

03-13-2014, 03:34 PM
Could I jump into the conversation and ask if any of these options work on a Mac? I have only looked into two options (one available through HSBC and maybe Lego?) and both were limited to PCs only.

Thank you!

03-13-2014, 04:00 PM
We started with Scratch. Popsicle, it is now online based, so it works on a Mac. My boys love Scratch. we have also played around with Mindstorms.

03-13-2014, 04:27 PM
My son first became interested in programming through his love of Legos. He and his cousin programmed their Mindstorms for hours. Then he took a computer science course through Coursera that touched on programming. He also really enjoyed the Gamemaker's Apprentice.

03-13-2014, 04:41 PM
The mac store near us used to have some mac-based project classes, I think?

03-13-2014, 08:42 PM
My son is only 11, but he has a good friend who is passionately interested in learning to code (they have an idea for a Minecraft mod they want to create). Luckily, the friend's dad is a software developer & homeschool dad, so he's taken them both under his wing and is teaching them a bunch of stuff. So far, they've done the activities on code.org, they're working their way through the minecraft Mod Design 1 course, and he's taught a few lessons on specific topics like objects and properties.

All I have to do is a "writing" activity in exchange. Yay! (however, I used to be a programmer, too, so I suppose I could help if I were inclined, which I'm not.)

03-13-2014, 11:13 PM
The Hour of Code website might also be a good place to start.

03-14-2014, 09:06 AM
Thanks for sharing, everyone. This has been very helpful.